Charlie was invited to speak at the Council of 100′s Spring General Membership Meeting in Orlando. The group then cancelled the speech in fear of the political ramifications of offending Rick Scott. Here’s the speech Charlie was going to give:

Thank you for being here today. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share my vision for Florida. I’ve enjoyed the dialogue we’ve had over the years, the willingness of this organization to tackle big ideas and those in the membership who have sacrificed to serve their state in a variety of ways. So thank you for all you do, and for allowing this grandson of Greek immigrants to join you today.

I am running for Governor for one simple reason:  Tallahassee is broken, and it is time to put the people back in charge.

Quite simply, our state needs and deserves a Governor who will wake up every day thinking about people like you, who will govern honestly and with the state’s collective best interests in mind, and who will make this economy more fair for hard working business owners and taxpayers.

And we need a Governor who will refocus the state on things that are important to all Floridians: good schools, affordable health care, respect for our environment and dignity for our seniors.

Because that’s who I am, that’s what I believe in and that’s what I’ll do if given the honor of returning to the People’s house.

My record is pretty clear — putting the people first. Going back to the days when I was blessed to serve the good people of the Tampa Bay area in the State Senate, I’ve always tried to do what is in the best interests of the people I served.

And I am proud of my record as your Governor.

  • Investing in public education and stopping the layoffs of some 20,000 teachers during the global economic meltdown…
  • Cracking down on government corruption and opening up government so that you the people could be the watchdog…
  • Cutting unnecessary regulations that held back the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners, while protecting those regulations critical to consumers…
  • Helping families by dramatically cutting property taxes and stopping the excessive profits in the property insurance market…
  • Advocating for seniors by working to cut the cost of prescription drugs and helping seniors to stay in their home instead of being forced to move into nursing homes…
  • Standing up for the basic tenets of democracy by ensuring that Florida voters would vote on paper ballots -– and extending early voting hours in 2008 when long lines were limiting the right of our people to vote…
  • Being tough on crime – locking up the most dangerous in our society so they can do no harm, but also leading on forgiveness,by ensuring that non-violent ex-felons who had paid their debt to society would have their rights restored…
  • And leading on the environment, working to help the Gulf Coast recover from the oil spill…reducing pollution into the Everglades…supporting green energy.

This was our record.  One of putting Florida families ahead of partisan politics – looking out for the middle class over the politics of extremism, and trying to work with willing members of both parties to move Florida ahead.

And we can do so much more.

Right now, we have an economic plan led by Governor Scott that consists of flying in his private plane to hold press conferences to tout job growth that he had literally nothing to do with… It might be a good plan for getting re-elected, but it’s not a road map for long term economic growth.

And Florida’s economy has suffered as a result.  Many economists say that Florida is lagging behind where we should be. And we are certainly lagging way behind the 1.7 million jobs Rick Scott promised to create.

We should be investing in home-grown businesses, embracing the unique creative nature of our state, building opportunities for today’s Florida entrepreneurs to be tomorrow’s Fortune 500 leaders, and constantly working towards having the world’s most talented workforce.

Our diversity, our geography, our climate, our environment, ond our love for life are the reasons why Florida should be a leader, not a frequent late night joke. We’ve allowed mediocrity to become the norm. It’s time to embrace our greatness

So here is how we are going to get this economy really growing again.

One: We are going to improve education and make college more affordable.

When I talk to CEOs, they tell me the number one thing they worry about is the availability of a qualified workforce.

We are uniquely positioned to lead America in the coming century.  But we will only be as good as our people are ready to take on this challenge.To this end, we must never settle, and we shouldn’t stop until our reputation, not only here, but around the world, is as a center of greatness when it comes to our schools.

And we will set a date.  By 2020, we want to be in the top 10 percent, not just in America, but globally, in reading, math, science and technology.  And we should wake up every day asking ourselves, “what are we doing today to help our students succeed”

Sadly, while our teachers work hard to make our schools great, the support they receive from the Governor is pitiful. Four education commissioners in four years, a proposed $4.8 billion education budget cut, constantly moving targets on accountability and a Governor who cares so little about schools that he didn’t even attend his own Education Summit — though he did find the time to go to the Tea Party convention that same week.

As your Governor, we will get back to where teachers are the centerpiece of our education policy. Every child in this state deserves a high quality teacher, and we must pay those high quality teachers what they are worth.

And let’s not forget that the most important teacher in every child’s life is their mom and dad and other caregivers at home. Parents need to take responsibility to make sure their kids are doing their work and ready for school.”

We must also invest in our schools. Rick Scott’s first education budget cut $1.3 billion. And despite the fact that Florida’s budget is the largest in history – with some 2.6 billion more in revenue than last year, Florida students are still receiving almost $200 less per year than 2008.  That’s not right.  As Governor, we will fully restore those cuts and invest smartly in K-12 schools to hire the best teachers and give our kids the best chance to prepare for a job or college.

On college education, we must continue to strive to make our Universities great, and we must keep working to make Florida a beacon for learning.

There is arguably no better long-term investment in our economic future than the investments we make in our universities. So as Governor, we are going to get to work creating a world class university system, one that keeps our best students at home, and attracts the best students around the world here.

And we are going to take a few concrete steps:

  1. We will get the politics out of university governance.  As Governor, we will re-empower the Board of Governors to make sure excellence in our universities is coordinated.  Issues like the creation of Florida Polytech, and even this debate over FSU and FAMU engineering school have shown what happens when University Governance is delegated to politicians, who put their interests before the people’s interest.
  2. We need to invest in making sure that our universities are centers of excellence. We need to focus on programs like Grow Florida at UCF and we need to make sure the business community is involved in the direction of our universities.  For example, as Governor, I would create a standing task force, that reports to the Governor’s office, that ensures the programs in our universities are meeting the needs of today’s workforce. To build a truly world class university system, the state and the business community must work hand in hand.
  3. Not only will I reverse Governor Scott’s cuts to Bright Futures scholarships, I will propose an expansive new program that will incentivize students to stay in school and earn their graduate degree in key science, technology, engineering and medical programs – if they agree to stay here and work in Florida.
  4. We will compete for the best and the brightest students around the world.  In today’s economy, Florida competes not only with the competitors we can see, but also those you we cannot.  We should be recruiting the best students from around the world to learn here in our schools.  As Governor, we will actively work to make Florida an attractive place for international students to learn. And even if they don’t stay, the long term relationships built here can only help our economy in the long haul.

And priority two: We are going to invest in infrastructure like roads, bridges and ports.

To grow this state for the middle class, we must have the finest infrastructure in the world.

We are going to modernize our roads and ports – ensuring that all of Florida’s major ports have access to the new bigger Panama Canal ships, and that all of those ports have ready access to move cargo onto roads and rail.

And we are going to put a laser focus on growing the Space Coast – home to some of the smartest engineers and scientists in the world.  In the post-shuttle era, we must work to turn Port Canaveral into one the world’s leading transportation hub – a place where goods can be shipped by road, rail, water, air, or space.And YES – we are going to renew the effort to create a real high speed rail and mass transit system, to get people off our clogged roads and make it easier for Floridians and our visitors to get around our state.

And THREE: — We will invest in renewable energy, like wind and solar.

We are the sunshine state, yet there are few places in America harder to invest in solar technology than Florida.And that is going to change.  I know some in this room don’t like to hear this, but it is time to remove the monopoly by big utility companies and let smaller companies who specialize in renewable energy compete, by making it easier and cheaper for you to put solar on your home or business – as well as encourage investment in solar and wind fields.  Either you believe in the market or not, and on this one, Florida’s policies are anti-free market.  It is time for a change.

Besides being good for the environment, alternative energy will create new high paying jobs.  It is time for government to stop standing in the way

AND FINALLY, we will think big about Florida’s place in the world.

We live in the greatest state in the greatest country, and we should continue to encourage people to visit.  We will continue to invest in programs like Visit Florida to market our state’s wonders around the world, as well as continue to look for ways to bring more people here.

And we are going to make trade a priority like never before.  Right now, our trade policy is having our Governor jet all over the world and give hand outs to his corporate buddies.  We can do better than that.

As Governor, I will create the position of Florida Trade and Development Representative – a cabinet level job that will report directly to me, and that job will have one job only — to responsibly open the doors of foreign markets so that Florida companies can sell their goods and services overseas.

Because there is one thing I know for certain –- if we make Florida the trade beacon for Latin America and the rest of the world, we will create tens, if not hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs, for homegrown small businesses, right here in Florida.  And to that end, I will fight to open the borders with Cuba, so that Florida businesses –- not those from China, are the ones who are building the post-Castro Cuba.

And finally, we are going to think big.  We can do great things here, but only if we focus on making big things happen.  I want to create steering committees around big ideas, to bring in the best minds from business, science, and academics to focus on how we transform Florida.  And these aren’t limited goals.  As your Governor, I want us to be thinking about how we make Miami the Hong Kong of Latin America, how we make the Space Coast the undisputed center for commercial space, how we ensure that Jacksonville beats out the rest of the south east in the import/export port race, and how we use our brand as a family friendly destination to increase tourism to central florida.

And that is how we will get this economy working again for the people – the middle class people.

And growing the middle class and standing up for Florida was the number one priority of the Governor’s office during the time you allowed me to serve.

Here is the reality:  Today we have a Governor in Governor Scott who leads by embracing the ideological fringes, taking care of his friends, bullying his opponents, hiding from the public and press and running from tough issues.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise.  He hid from federal investigators as a businessman, he disparaged a good woman Alex Sink to win in 2010, and now he’s trying to bully me by waving his 100 million dollar checkbook and by running a daily smear campaign about my life and career.

I’ve always trusted the good judgment and sense of fairness of Floridians and I know you are not going to be misled by millions in false negative attacks.

He’s spent roughly 20 million on his re-election, building a campaign that peddles lies to press and runs negative television ads. Why? Because Floridians don’t support his record as Governor. It’s that simple. He has nothing positive or true to say.

But there is a another way…

We can go in a new direction that embraces common sense and optimism –- and one that rejects the nasty tone of today’s politics. Yes, we can choose a direction that is inclusive, one where ideas trump money and power, one that says no one or no party has a monopoly on good ideas, and one that is willing to bring people together to find common sense solutions to the  problems we face.

Listen friends, I love Florida and like each of you, I live here by choice.

People come here because we are a state where traditionally, any middle class American can live the American Dream – and do it living in paradise.  And we can be that state again.

  • We deserve a Governor who will listen to his opponents, not demonize them.
  • We deserve a Governor who will be an advocate for teachers all the time, not just at election time.
  • We deserve a Governor who will fight to provide middle class families access to affordable health insurance.
  • We deserve a Governor who will fight for our senior citizens.
  • We deserve a Governor who will fight to protect the Everglades and our beaches and ensure that every Floridian has clean air to breath and clean water to drink.
  • We deserve a Governor who recommits to preserving the open lands of this beautiful state for generations to visit, hike, hunt and fish
  • We deserve a Governor who will open the doors of democracy.
  • We deserve a Governor who believes all Floridians deserve a voice, not just those who agree with him or who can write the biggest checks.
  • We deserve a Governor who will embrace the best of all of us, not the politics of Washington.
  • We simply deserve a Governor who will stand up for the people – as I always have, and always will.

The far right wing seems to think it’s important to make much of my party affiliation.  That is precisely what is wrong with politics these days. Too much nonsense. Not enough common sense.

Rick Scott, like this gang in Washington and here in Florida seem to think the only way to govern is from the fringes. That anyone who doesn’t agree with them on everything is an enemy or worse yet, somehow less patriotic. That is why Washington is so dysfunctional and why state government here has lost its way.

When the people give you the honor of being their governor – you aren’t the governor of one party – you’re the governor for all Floridians. No matter what they say, it is not a sin to reach across the aisle –- it is your obligation.

So yes, I am running as a Democrat –- proudly. But to every independent and Republican who feels we are losing our way –- please join us.

We will not agree on everything –- nor should we. But the principles that unite us as Americans and Floridians will always be more compelling than the issues that divide us. Rick Scott doesn’t get that –- but I know you do.

My friends, it is going to be a long year.

But I am in this race because I am tireless in my desire to make Florida a better place…

Rick Scott can spend a billion dollars on dishonest negative ads and it won’t matter, because we will lay out a vision for leading Florida in the new economy –- and giving the middle class real hope.

I love Florida – And because you are here, I know you do to.

You know we deserve better.

But I can’t do this without you.  You are leaders.  You have ideas. Your door was always open to me, and it will remain that way.  Because even if we don’t always agree, we share the common goal of a better state for our kids, and our grandkids.

God Bless You.  God Bless America and God Bless our the great state of Florida.

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